Maya Fleischmann

In this often hilarious and consistently stirring performance, comedian, actor and all-around celebrity Jamie Foxx dishes on his toughest role: being a father. Throughout Act Like You Got Some Sense: And Other Things My Daughters Taught Me (6 hours), Foxx brings honesty and heart to touching stories about his childhood—growing up with an absent mother and being raised by a loving and unyielding grandmother—and shows how these experiences guided him when he became a parent. Foxx's impersonations of family members are dynamic and animated, as are his exasperated (and sometimes expletive-filled) responses to the trials and tribulations of parenthood. 

In an equally candid and heartwarming foreword, Foxx's eldest daughter, Corinne, affirms that, despite some unconventional parenting, her father always showed up for her and her sister, and always conveyed his love for his family. Throughout his rise to fame, Foxx's continual efforts to stay grounded and live by the values instilled in him by his grandmother shine through in the raising of his daughters. 

This inspiring, raucous and entertaining listening experience brims with attitude and positivity about embracing parenthood and the ups and downs of life. 

In this often hilarious and consistently stirring performance, comedian, actor and all-around celebrity Jamie Foxx dishes on his toughest role: being a father.

In Travels With George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy (9.5 hours), author and narrator Nathaniel Philbrick retraces his adventure, beginning in the fall of 2018, to follow the trail of George Washington's presidential excursions after his 1789 inauguration. Through observing the landscapes and towns he visits and interviewing the people he meets, Philbrick compares and contrasts our history with our present moment, and ponders the strengths and fragility of our nation. As he recounts his travels, including fond anecdotes of his dog, Dora, Philbrick examines who Washington was—as a man, a plantation owner dependent on the labor of enslaved people and a reluctant president facing complex social issues.

A natural storyteller, Philbrick switches seamlessly between Washington's voice and his own personal reflections, revealing a profound respect for the country, its history and the lessons it imparts to us. His fascinating journey will appeal to travelers and historians, but his likable performance as an audiobook narrator will engage even those typically averse to historical narratives. Travels With George is as insightful and thought provoking as John Steinbeck's Travels With Charley.

Read our review of the print edition of 'Travels With George.'

Tracing the trail of Washington’s presidential excursions, Nathaniel Philbrick reveals a profound respect for the country, its history and the lessons it imparts to us.

In Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty (9 hours), broadcast journalist Anderson Cooper joins historian and novelist Katherine Howe to recount the rich and tumultuous history of his mother's family, the Vanderbilts. The engaging and detailed narrative explores the chaos and charm of the Vanderbilt name and the family's social status from the 19th to the 21st century.

Cooper's narration is even, his voice distinctly resonant and professional throughout, yet there is a notably heartfelt quality to his memories of his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt. His tender descriptions of her dignity and optimistic spirit—in spite of the public and media scrutiny that came with being a Vanderbilt—lend a touching and respectful tone to this in-depth look at an American dynasty.

This revealing family history will be especially interesting to readers who loved Cooper's The Rainbow Comes and Goes, a book of letters between Cooper and his mother, and those who enjoy celebrity memoirs such as The Boys by Ron and Clint Howard.

Anderson Cooper’s tender descriptions of his mother’s optimistic spirit lend a touching and respectful tone to this in-depth look at the Vanderbilt dynasty.

Helen Ellis, author of American Housewife and Southern Lady Code, once again unleashes her irreverent outlook on life in a warm and funny collection of essays. In Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light (3 hours), 40-something Ellis’ exuberant narration is cheeky and comedic, powered by a Southern drawl that adds charm to even her most unabashed discussions of sex and toilet habits, as well as her observations on meds, marriage and menopause.

Packed into these 12 essays on living, aging, food and fashion is a lifetime’s worth of lessons on resilience and gratitude. While Ellis' reflections are often outrageous and punchy, they also have a down-to-earth quality that is relatable and touching, especially when describing her longtime, tightknit friendships with women who have unreservedly shouldered each other’s weighty, deeply private experiences, including cancer treatment. 

Ellis’ embracing, uplifting and energetic performance delivers a perfect listening experience for readers who enjoyed How Y’all Doing? by Leslie Jordan and Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling.

Helen Ellis’ energetic narration offers a perfect listening experience for readers who have enjoyed the audiobooks of Leslie Jordan and Mindy Kaling.

Generations of Cambodian immigrants and their children bring their heritage and culture to America’s melting pot in Afterparties, a bold and incisive collection of short stories by the late writer Anthony Veasna So.

There’s a mesmerizing quality to these nine beautifully brash, interconnected stories filled with feisty, flawed characters living in central California. Each tale touches on themes of history, family, sexuality and identity, topics that are inextricably tied to all cultures. 

In “Three Women of Chuck’s Donuts,” Sothy is the Cambodian owner of a donut store, which she’s named Chuck’s because she thought the American-sounding name would attract customers. She is haunted by memories of the concentration camps she survived during the Cambodian genocide by the Khmer Rouge. However, a strange new source of dread appears in the form of a stranger who bears an unusual resemblance to Sothy’s ex-husband. As Sothy and her two American-born teenage daughters wonder about this stranger, they also come to a new understanding of their own complex identities as Cambodian Americans.

In several stories, So handles sexuality and religion unabashedly to illuminate the paradoxes of life. In “Maly, Maly, Maly,” teen narrator Ves reflects on his and his cousin Maly’s explicit sexual adventures amid preparations for the celebration of Maly’s dead mother’s reincarnation. And in “The Monks,” Rithy, who appears as Maly’s boy toy in “Maly, Maly, Maly,” is confined to a temple for a week to ensure his father’s smooth transition into the afterlife, making Rithy’s loyal duty to his unworthy father sound more like he is doing time.

So died in December 2020, leaving behind this collection as an important legacy that challenges stereotypes of Asians and Asian Americans. Respecting the challenges of history while simultaneously giving voice to generations, these refreshingly unsterilized stories transcend race, culture and time.

Insightful and energetic, Afterparties’ tales about the complex communion of history and identity will intrigue fans of Chang-rae Lee’s My Year Abroad and Souvankham Thammavongsa’s How to Pronounce Knife.

These nine beautifully brash, interconnected stories are filled with feisty, flawed characters living in central California.

Unembellished and forthright, The Tiger Mom’s Tale is a touching story that illuminates intricacies of race, ethnicity, traditions and stereotypes.

Thirty-something Lexa Thomas is a fitness trainer living in New York City, and she’s trying to adjust to the news that her white mother is divorcing Lexa’s white stepfather after falling for an Asian American acupuncturist. Then Lexa receives a call from her half sister in Taiwan, Hsu-Ling, who informs Lexa that their biological father has died. This stirs up memories of what happened during Lexa’s last visit to Taiwan, when she was forced to abandon her father and her heritage 22 years ago.

But Hsu-Ling has more news. Their Uncle Pong has also died, within moments of their father’s death, and he left a mysterious letter for Lexa. Encouraged by her two half sisters, one Taiwanese and the other a white American, Lexa returns to Taiwan to claim her rightful place in the family.

Lyn Liao Butler’s tale is a literary melting pot brimming with blended families and cultures. The straightforward, exposition-heavy narrative is sprinkled with Mandarin and broad references to different Asian foods and cultural elements, although the lack of development of these aspects may distract the reader from fully immersing themselves in Lexa’s journey to connect with her heritage. Scenes that reveal backstory and the surprising events that turned Lexa away from her Taiwanese relatives slowly tease out the novel’s climax.

Lexa’s gentle humility and quiet confidence will garner the support of readers looking for a likable protagonist. A heartwarming romantic subplot is a sweet result of Lexa’s transformation and self-acceptance and provides another union of ethnic backgrounds.

Filled with potential book club discussion topics and perfect for fans of YA novels by Jenny Han, The Tiger Mom’s Tale will unleash timely dialogue about identity, family secrets and cultural divides.

Filled with potential book club discussion topics, The Tiger Mom’s Tale will unleash timely dialogue about identity, family secrets and cultural divides.

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